Grace Lorch

Oct 5, 2017

The 1957 school crisis produced a number of fascinating stories, many of them sidelined from the main narrative of events. Take, for example, Grace Lorch, the white woman who on September 4, 1957, defended Elizabeth Eckford from the mob at Central High School and escorted her onto a city bus. Lorch was married to Lee Lorch, a mathematics professor at Philander Smith College. The Lorches had previously been active in a number of civil rights causes. Arkansas governor Orval Faubus labeled Grace Lorch a “subversive.” Arkansas Congressman Dale Alford denounced her as a “Communist functionary” in the U.S. House of Representatives. Arkansas Attorney General Bruce Bennett sought to prosecute the Lorches under the 1951 Communist Registration Act. The state harassment contributed to the Lorches leaving Little Rock in Spring 1958.